Saturday, June 2, 2012

Stranger Danger...

Playground Primary Colors
photo credit
Yesterday after I picked up my son from school I thought it would be fun to go the park and eat lunch. The kids didn't want to go to the one we usually go to so we went to one in the next town over.

This park is right next to a small zoo and for some reason I thought that it would be a fun place to go. Was I ever wrong!

Tons of kids were there, most of which who were on field trips to the zoo and then were playing/eating at the park. The kids were much older than my kids and were all very rowdy which wouldn't have been an issue except they were also playing on the little kid side which made me nervous that Alli was going to get knocked around though she is a tough little cookie so she would have most likely punched anyone who knocked her over.

My kids didn't seem to mind but after we ate lunch and I let them play for fifteen minutes I couldn't take it anymore and we left. The rowdy kids annoyed me but I also left because it was so crowded that it was nearly impossible for me to keep an eye on both kids- my saving grace was that Alli had on a bright pink flowered shirt and Tyler had on a bold striped shirt which made it a little easier to pick them out of the crowd. I honestly felt like I was in the throes of an anxiety attack while I was trying to watch the kids- when I couldn't see one of them for second I would inwardly panic.

Now, I am not a crazy helicopter parent by any means. I let my kids run around and play and if they want to be goofy and have no regard for getting hurt I try to let them learn their own lessons. At the same time the thought of losing one of my kids, whether it be by them walking off or getting snatched up by a stranger, scares the daylights out of me. I would hope they know not to just walk away but kids are kids and sometimes make bewildering decisions. I also pound into their heads (not literally) to be careful of strangers- don't ever talk or go with a stranger, even if they offer you candy or a puppy and if someone grabs you to scream, kick, scratch, bite and pretty much beat the crap out of them until they let you go (my daughter likes to say she is going to kick the bad guy in the wiener). I also tell them to watch out for each other and for their friends and if they see something bad happening to tell another mommy or me. But like I said, kids are kids. Will they freeze up and not fight back? Will the thought of a puppy and a lollipop entice them to go with someone they don't know?

The only things I can do is keep an eye on my kids, make sure they know to keep an eye on each other and keep telling them what to do if someone tries to take them. I also try to explain to them that most strangers aren't bad but we always need to be careful because I don't want my kids to be scared to leave the house. My favorite book to read them that teaches about strangers is The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers- it teaches a good lesson and doesn't make it at all scary.

There will be a day where my kids are old enough to do things by themselves without me watching over them and I just hope that they remember the lessons I have taught them. Of course it would be safer for me to be a helicopter parent, never letting them play outside alone or walk to school by themselves but that would only be doing a disservice to them and teaching them that the world is a scary place. The world is not a scary place- it is a wonderful place with many wonderful people in it but it is also a place that we need to use our common sense to be safe in.

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1 comment:

  1. I've got three boys ages 2, 6 and 9, and big playgrounds like that are not my cup of tea, because I can never keep track of them. I would probably have left quickly as well...

    Now that camp season is coming up, I always try to get to the playground early in the morning before the camp kids show up.